John’s Gospel: Chapter 16:12-33 (“you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice”)

(John 16:12-13 ESV) 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

Again, “all the truth” refers to the gospel, not all human knowledge. In fact, the apostles sometimes had to expend considerable effort to discern God’s will.

Peter struggled to accept Gentiles as Christians. The Jerusalem church had to issue a pronouncement about whether Gentiles must be circumcised. It appears that the apostles were reluctant to take the gospel to the Samaritans.

The Spirit worked powerfully in them, and yet they struggled at times to discern the implications of the gospel. We should not feel too bad when we struggle a bit ourselves.

But notice that they resolved these issues in community, through discussion, and not through compromise and politics. Rather, they prayerfully sought God’s will together — and when God was ahead of them (which was often), they celebrated God’s powerful working through his Spirit, even when they weren’t quite ready for it.

(John 16:14-15 ESV)  14 “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

The Spirit will submit to the Son, and the Son will have all that the Father has — that is, power over the entire universe. He will reign as king.

The Spirit, therefore, is not a rival, competitor, or replacement for Jesus. The Spirit points toward the Christ.

To some, it may seem odd that a co-eternal, co-equal being would submit to another co-eternal, co-equal being, but this is the nature of God. Our God is a God who submits. For one member of the Godhead to submit to another is not exceptional but rather demonstrative of the character of God.

(John 16:16-18 ESV)  16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”  17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?”  18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.”

Jesus continues to speak obscurely about his death. Understandably, the disciples were perplexed.

(John 16:19-20 ESV)  19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’?  20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.”

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(John 16:21-22 ESV)  21 “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.  22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”

Jesus is now being plain about the emotions the disciples will feel, but still not plain about where he is going.

(John 16:24 ESV) 24 “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

We discussed this earlier in the post on John 15:7, except in this case the promise appears more specifically directed to the disciples present.

(John 16:25 ESV)  25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father.”

You can imagine the disciples’ reaction. At last, Jesus would speak where even they could understand him! The readers of the Gospel, of course, have the advantage of already knowing the story. We know what’s going to happen. But the disciples did not.

(John 16:26-27 ESV)  26 “In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf;  27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”

One result of the faith they would have is that God would hear their prayers — unmediated. God loves Jesus’ followers, and while they have Jesus as a mediator, God gladly hears their prayers directly. It’s not as though God loves us less than Jesus and so we need Jesus to argue our case for us.

Rather, the role of the mediator is not to use his influence as more beloved but to make up what is lacking in our prayer life — to ask God for what we really need that we’re too mortal and short-sighted to know.

(John 16:28-30 ESV)  28 “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”  29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech!  30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.”

The NIV is a little clearer as to verse 30 —

(John 16:30 NIV) “Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”

It seems that the disciples are saying, “Now that you’ve explained what you mean without our having to pepper you with questions, the fact that you’re being so open with us gives us greater faith.”

Or, some commentators suggest, Jesus’ ability to read their thoughts gives them faith — although that would have been a small miracle compared to raising Lazarus!

(John 16:31-33 ESV)  31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.  33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Jesus seems to challenge their claim. They would soon scatter — at the time of his arrest. They will abandon Jesus. And yet, in words of incomparable grace, Jesus says that he wants them to have peace — in their time of abandoning Jesus.

What an astonishing thing to say: You’re about to abandon me in the hour of my deepest need, and I just want God to give you peace while that happens. And don’t worry about whether I can get God to give you peace. I’ve won the battle already.  Amazing …

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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